Open Call: Citizens Advice Northumberland

Citizens Advice Northumberland is looking for a digital solution that will enable it to better track all outcomes of its services and to improve the services it provides.

The deadline for applying is 27 November 2020. You can read the brief below or download it via PDF.

Programme overview

Citizens Advice Northumberland is looking for a digital solution that will enable it to better track all outcomes of its services and to improve the services it provides.

Citizens Advice Northumberland (CAN) provides free, confidential and impartial advice to residents within Northumberland, focusing on a range of issues including money, benefits, housing and employment.

One of Citizens Advice Northumberland’s biggest challenges is that it has no way to track outcomes efficiently. To track outcomes, CAN currently conducts phone calls with individuals which can be time consuming and which makes it difficult to capture information, and demonstrate CAN’s successes and achievements. When CAN speaks to its clients, it often identifies additional challenges to be addressed which are missed if outcomes are not tracked efficiently.

A secondary challenge CAN faces is the volume of referrals and lack of triaging in its current system. If it can capture this more efficiently through tracking outcomes, clients may not have to begin the process of support from referral stage again.


Charity background

Name of Charity: 

Citizens Advice Northumberland

Registered Charity Number: 


Charity Background:

Citizens Advice Northumberland provides free, confidential and impartial advice surrounding big issues that are affecting people’s lives. This includes advice on topics such as employment, housing and benefits. Citizens Advice Northumberland’s mission is to give the residents in Northumberland the knowledge and confidence they need to find their way forward, regardless of who they are and what their problem is.

People have come to rely on the team because they’re independent and totally impartial and as a result, Citizens Advice Northumberland saves government and public services millions of pounds every year.

Citizens Advice Northumberland provides advice in a number of ways including e-mail, online self-help tools, over the phone, and face to face. In 2018-19 NCA supported 20,008 Northumberland residents, helping them gain £2.8m in income and seeing £1.8m in debt written off.


Summary of the Challenge

While Citizens Advice Northumberland knows it is making an impact, it is not efficiently tracking outcomes of the services it is providing and this can have a negative impact on future referrals as well as funding opportunities to support more people.

CAN needs to be able to track outcomes in a more efficient way than through current phone call systems, and requires a tracking system that will enable it to provide early intervention to any additional support needs of clients before things become too difficult.

An effective digital solution to this could also help to alleviate another internal challenge it has around referral volumes and lack of triaging.


Impact of Solving the Challenge

If Citizens Advice Northumberland was able to track outcomes efficiently and better respond to new client issues, the technology would make a significant social and commercial impact within the organisation:
• CAN could provide early intervention to clients on new issues
• CAN could assess the varied outcomes of services provided to improve its services and to provide evidence when bidding for further funding opportunities

The Social Impact on the people accessing the services for help would include:
• Quicker responses, reducing their stress and anxiety
• Clients may also engage better with the service if they feel they are continuing to receive the support they require.


Project Roles 

Abi Conway, CEO – Overall responsibility for organisation.

Rachel Turnbull, Operations Manager.

Hayley Cherry, Digital Services Manager – Overall management of the Telephone contact centre and liaison with Citizens Advice on KCOM system.

Tracey Gillies, Commercial Manager – Responsibility for Phone provider relationships and all IT related infrastructure.


The Budget

CAN was awarded £10,000 (including VAT) from the North East Social Tech Fund to be allocated to development of a prototype solution. All funds are classed as restricted and therefore 100% will be paid to the supplier upon completion of pre agreed milestones.


How to Apply

To apply, please fill out the CAB application form before the 27th November.




Open Call Deadline27/11/2020
Companies Shortlisted 04/12/2020
Pitch Day07/12/2020 TBC
Company Selected11/12/2020
Solution Complete16/04/2021
Evaluation Report16/05/2021

Evaluation Criteria


InnovationLikelihood of solving the challenge and the opportunity for the charity to receive scaleup funds to develop the prototype into a complete solution25%
TeamExperience of the solution & the sector 25%
TimescalesAbility to meet timescales25%
ScopeHow much of the brief will be met in the budget 25%


Intellectual Property

All Intellectual Property will reside with the charitable organisation unless otherwise agreed in writing between the charity and the supplier. Therefore we would advise if you wish to pitch a solution that is based on your current infrastructure and therefore your existing Intellectual Property please state this clearly in your application form so that your IP can be protected and the charity is aware.

Pilot Fund Background Info

The North East Social Tech Fund is supported by Comic Relief, County Durham Community Foundation, Newcastle Building Society and Northstar Foundation. The purpose of the fund is to help charities and social enterprises in the North East and Tees Valley explore how challenges within their organisations can be addressed through digital technology and ‘open innovation’. The pilot programme has provided Innovation Grants of up to £10,000 (including VAT) to each successful VCSE which will be used to commission a solution and digital prototype. In addition, all VCSEs receive dedicated hands-on support from the Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley’s expert Innovation Teams.

At the current stage, all VCSEs have identified and explored key challenges within their organisations which they wish to address through technology. These challenges have been outlined within the innovation calls. It is up to you; the creative, digital and tech SMEs, to come up with creative solutions to these problems and, if successful, develop a prototype or minimum viable product (MVP).